Head of German colony in Chile sentenced

SANTIAGO, Chile — The jailed leader of a commune-like German colony in southern Chile was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison for arms possession.

Paul Schaefer, 84, the former leader of Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony, was convicted after a large cache of arms was found at the secretive enclave near Parral, 200 miles south of Santiago.

Two of Schaefer’s former aides also were sentenced to five years in prison.

The commune-like Dignity Colony was founded by German immigrants in southern Chile and developed into a prosperous farming operation.

Its leaders, however, were accused of serious human rights abuses against the more than 300 residents in the enclave, and later of allowing secret police during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet to use the colony as a detention, torture and execution center.

Schaefer, who founded the colony in the early 1960s, in May was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sexually abusing children at the colony. He has appealed that ruling and is expected to appeal Monday’s.

A series of investigations after civilian rule was restored found evidence that several people were arrested and taken there. At least 18 people remain under indictment over human rights abuses at the enclave, including top commanders of Pinochet’s secret police, Schaefer and other former colony leaders.

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AP, via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, USA
Aug. 28, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday August 29, 2006.
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